Morgenbesser named Servus TV sports rights chief in latest Sky Deutschland exit

Servus TV, the Red Bull-owned free-to-air television network in Austria, has appointed David Morgenbesser, a sports rights executive at German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland, as its head of sports rights and content distribution.

Morgenbesser has left his position as director of sports rights and commercialisation at Sky Deutschland to assume the new role based in Salzburg.

The move spells an end to his seven-year stint at the pay-TV broadcaster based on the outskirts of Munich, having initially joined as legal counsel in 2012. He became part of the sports rights team in the middle of 2013.

At Sky, Morgenbesser was involved in the acquisition of sports rights in German-speaking countries, including rights to the Bundesliga and Austrian Bundesliga, the Uefa Champions League, ATP Tour and ice hockey properties.

Servus TV, which is operated by the Red Bull Media House division, holds broadcast rights in Austria to sports properties include motorcycling’s MotoGP, German football’s DFB Pokal, the Australian Open, ATP Tour and Austrian ice hockey’s top division.

There have been a string of departures at Sky Deutschland this year in the wake of the takeover of parent company Sky by US-based media giant Comcast.

The departures have included Roman Steuer (sporting director) Paul Sexton-Chadwick (senior vice-president of OTT service Sky Ticket), Marcello Maggioni (chief commercial officer), Thomas Deissenberger (chief executive of advertising arm Sky Media) and Ralph Fürther (head of communications).

Sky’s sports rights department continues to be headed by Hans Gabbe, who took on the position of senior vice-president of sports rights in 2016 as Volker Winter left the broadcaster. Christian Frodl and Stefan Breuer are also directors of sports rights and commercialisation at Sky Deutschland and, along with Gabbe, attended the recent Sportel trade fair in Monaco.

Morgenbesser’s move means he switches from one potential Uefa Champions League and Europa League rights bidder to another.

The invitation to submit offers in German-speaking countries was launched last week by the Team Marketing agency and a first-round deadline of December 3 has been issued. The rights cover the 2021-22 to 2023-4 cycle and also include the Uefa Europa Conference League, the new third-tier competition.

Champions League broadcast rights in Austria are shared by Sky and DAZN, the subscription OTT platform, during the current three-season cycle (from 2018-19 to 2020-21). DAZN also holds Europa League rights in Austria with a package of live rights also held by Puls 4, the ProSiebenSat.1-owned free-to-air channel.